5 Methods That Generate a Foundation of Resilience in Children

POSTED BY on May 05, 2023

Part 1

(Methods 1-2)

The digital age in which we live has paved the way for technological advancements that have greatly exceeded our expectations. Now there is a phone app for everything and we can communicate across the world right at our fingertips. This magic-like innovation is fueled by our desire to make life easier. The instant gratification and ‘easy-fying’ of our lives have come at a cost. When once-difficult tasks are greatly simplified due to automation it can skew our perceptions. I would go as far as saying that our desire for “easy” has ultimately made life feel harder. Digging a hole by hand today is no more difficult than it was 100 years ago, but perhaps our lack of opportunity, practice, and motivation makes it feel like it's simply too difficult and therefore unworthy of the effort.

Adversity is uncomfortable, it can feel earth-shaking, relentless, and uncertain, but it’s how we become prepared for life.

We love easy and disdain adversity, and for good reason. Adversity is uncomfortable, it can feel earth-shaking, relentless, and uncertain, but it’s how we become prepared for life. As a parent (or any socialization agent of children) we have the exciting and sometimes intimidating opportunity to teach our children resilience. How do we start? How can I teach my child to be resilient? The following sections will provide 2 out of 5 distinct methods that will generate a foundation of resilience in our children.

#1  Model Healthy and Prosocial Behavior

This one is a little obvious, but it’s worth discussing right out the gate. Children are keen observers, and they learn by example. They learned to speak, walk, and play because they watched you, whether or not you recognized it. How you model your developed skills in the wake of adversity will make a lasting impression. This won’t be an especially fun exercise, but it may be helpful to conduct a brief and honest inventory of our own demonstrations of resilience. Are you quick to shift blame? Do you make excuses for your shortcomings? Do you ‘pitch a fit’ or pout when you don’t get your way? If there is a tendency for some of these attitudes and behaviors in yourself, don’t be surprised if these traits are realized in the children in your life. If there is work to be done in this area, that’s fine, we’re all in need of improvement. As you make and realize goals for yourself to develop greater resilience, your kids will notice and will follow your example. Modeling resilience is underpinned in all of the principles that follow. 

#2  Embrace Hard Work

Thomas Edison is cited to say “There is no substitute for hard work” and he was absolutely right. The problem is that hard work requires buckets of effort. Can we blame our children for becoming less resilient when there is a serious devaluation of effort? Bombarded with offerings that make life “easier” or attitudes that investing effort is “too much work”. Obviously we want our children to learn time management and keeping the big picture in mind. It isn’t too difficult to see how one can fall into the sly trap of the ‘easy road’. 

Let’s be clear, hard work and fun aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. Some of my fondest memories as a child revolve around working alongside a parent and siblings to achieve a shared goal. Help curate an appreciation for hard work so that they learn to find fulfillment in effort, not resentment. Teenagers especially are the most likely instigators of pushing back on effort, be careful of giving them the ‘easy’ way out. See, there’s that word again. Effort and hard work help develop an individual’s sense of duty and will offer a much deeper sense of purpose and individual worth; we all have a part to play and something valuable to contribute. 

(Methods 3-5 are coming soon on UpliftFamilies.org) 

Peter Clegg is the Prevention Coordinator for Tooele County and currently serves as the Chair of the Utah Prevention Network. He first studied Psychology at the University of Utah’s College of Social and Behavioral Science and minored in Human Development and Family Studies. After several years working in community mental health, he shifted his career ‘upstream’ into onset prevention and completed a master’s degree in Health Administration at Weber State University. Peter is a licensed Social Service Worker and a nationally certified Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Trainer. When he’s not spending time with his spouse Courtney and children Tenley and McIntyre, Peter enjoys gardening, hiking, canyoneering, and mountain biking.

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